The importance of including fiber in daily diet is unquestionable. There are various foods you can consume to include fiber in your diet. Let's have a look!
You may have commonly heard the following in favor of fiber –
‘one should include fiber in their diet’
‘eating fiber rich diet is good for your digestive system’
‘this food is a great source of fiber’.
Among all this discussion, have you ever thought that what actually is dietary fiber? And what are some of the most effective ways to include fiber in your diet?
What Is Fiber?
Dietary fiber is a plant based nutrient. It is also known as roughage or bulk. It is a type of carbohydrate, but unlike other carbs, fiber cannot be broken down into digestible sugar molecules. It passes through the digestive system as it is and does a lot of work while passing through. Since it is a plant based nutrient
, fiber is found only in fruits, vegetables, and grains.
Recommended daily fiber intake –
· Women – 25g
· Men – 35 – 40g
Fiber can be put in two categories – soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Both these types have their own benefits and are needed by the body.
Image Source – Mother Nature Network
- Decreasing blood glucose levels
- Lowering cholesterol
Fiber sources –
- Citrus fruits
- Speeding up passage of food through the digestive system
- Prevents constipation
Good Sources –
- Whole wheat flour
- Wheat bran
- Brown rice
Foods like nuts and carrots have both soluble as well as the insoluble type of fiber.
Benefits of fiber
Getting enough fiber from natural sources instead of supplements will do a greater good for your overall health. Some of the main health benefits of fiber
- Helps regulate bowel movement
- Aids in improving digestion by increasing stool bulk and regularity
- Reduces cholesterol and triglycerides
- Strengthens colon walls
- Helps in managing blood glucose levels
- Aids in weight loss
- High dietary fiber intake may reduce the risk of total mortality
- Helps prevent food allergies
Must Read – 10 Ways To Use Apple Cider Vinegar For Health
Image Source – Second to None Nutrition
High Fiber Foods
The following foods are high in fiber. Include them in your diet and consume them regularly and they’ll be highly beneficial for your health.
||10.5g fiber per cup
||10.4g fiber per cup (cooked)
||8g fiber per cup
||8.6g fiber per cooked cup (mostly soluble fiber)
||7.2g fiber per cup
||5g fiber per 1 cup (cooked)
||14.6g fiber in 1 cup (dried figs)
||4.8g fiber per ½ cup
||5g fiber per medium sized fruit
||8.2g fiber per cup
||8g fiber per cup
||3g fiber per tablespoon of whole flax seeds
||5.5g fiber per tablespoon
||12g fiber per cup
How to include more fiber in your diet
Find some easy and effective ways to include more fiber in your diet.
1. Choose whole grains over refined carb sources
Whole grain foods
are a rich source of fiber. Whole grains retain the kernel’s fiber rich coating known as bran. This coating is not present when you eat refined carbohydrates like white bread or white rice.
Some healthy whole grain options include –
- Barley, Rye, and Millet
- Oats and Oatmeal
- Brown rice
- Whole wheat and Whole wheat couscous
The next time you go the supermarket, make sure to read the packet content to know the fiber content of a particular food item.
Image Source: University of Aberdeen
2. Add fruit to your meal
Adding fruit to your meal of the day is one of the easiest and most effective ways to add fiber to your diet. You can munch on it as a snack, add small pieces to your bowl of cereal, add it to smoothies, have fruits with dips, or have a bowl of fresh fruit salad. They are high on fiber and low on calories. A great way to manage your weight. The highest fiber content is in apples, prunes, berries, oranges, and pears.
3. Give your body a boost of fiber
Starting your day with a healthy hearty breakfast
is a good idea. Why not give your body a boost of fiber right in the morning?
- Choose cereal made of whole grain
- Replace white bread with whole wheat bread or multigrain bread
- Add berries to cereal
- Have a bowl of oats
- Enjoy whole wheat toast with sliced avocados
Mid-meal munchies and snacks are something we all love. Most of them are unhealthy because they are full of fat and complex carbs. Replacing unhealthy options with healthy ones loaded with fiber will do a greater good for your system. You can pick –
- Nachni chips and Whole grain crackers
- Digestive biscuits and Ragi biscuits
- Homemade trail mix
- Mixed nuts and Mixed seeds
- Low-fat popcorn and Granola bars
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4. Eat beans and legumes
High fiber legumes and beans is an easy way to include fiber in your diet. You can add these to your soups and salads
to give a healthy twist. You could also cook legumes with spices and have them with whole grain chapatti or brown rice. Puree them to make delicious and wholesome soups and casserole recipes.
5. Top your smoothies with raspberries
Berries of all kinds are high in fiber. You can add them to your salads, cereal, or even to your smoothies
. Raspberries are a great fiber boosting food that you can add to your diet. They are lower in sugar content than most fruits making them a healthy solution to sweet cravings. Raspberries are also rich in antioxidants, thus, helping you combat free radical damage.
6. Snack on veggies with dips
Vegetables, when eaten on their own, can be boring. But when you eat them with delicious dips, it becomes a wholesome healthy meal. The next time you crave something crunchy and salty, replace chips with veggies and have them with hummus or hung curd dip. This is indeed a healthy and tasty way to include vegetables in your diet and get all the required dietary fiber. Hummus is loaded with soluble fiber and will help to lower your cholesterol levels. When paired with raw vegetables it will become a great source of fiber.
Image Source – WatchFit
7. Snack on apple and peanut butter
Crunchy fruits like apple and pear are the best way to satisfy your sweet cravings. They are high in fiber and low on calories. Nut butter and crunchy are a match made in heaven!
For your evening snack, you can have a sliced apple with nut butter. Apples have a healthy dose of fiber type called pectin. It helps regulate your appetite well. Research shows those who snack on apples in between meals tend to consume fewer calories in the next meal. To balance the carbs in an apple you can have it with peanut butter. Cut thin slices of apple, smear peanut butter on them and enjoy! Peanut butter will add a healthy crunch and additional taste as well. It is also highs in protein.
Some other useful tips
- Take it slow
Most people eat less than the recommended amount of fiber per day. Even then, making rapid changes in your diet is not suggested. Make sure you increase the fiber content in your diet gradually to prevent acidity, gas and bloating. It will also give your gut time to adjust to the new changes.
- Keep yourself hydrated
Drinking 2liters of water in a day is highly recommended. But when you eat a diet rich in fiber it becomes all the more important to keep your body hydrated. Fiber pulls water into the intestines. And without adequate hydration, fiber can aggravate constipation rather than reducing it. Try to drink eight glasses of water.
Experts say one should not overwhelm your system with drastic changes. Also, make sure you don’t do too many changes at once. Go slow and one step at a time for most fruitful results. Eat healthy and aim at healthy living instead of being a particular size or weight.